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Preview: Africa Unchained

Emergent Africa

Inspired by George Ayittey's book 'Africa Unchained'.

Updated: 2018-02-20T11:20:24.436-05:00


Sotheca - Ivory Coast's village of Artists


A CNN profile of Sotheca:

The Critical Thinking Project


An initiative to bring Critical Thinking Skills to the Developing World:
The Critical Thinking Project is an innovative program operated by the Brighter Brains Institute, (BBI) a nonprofit in California.

We provide three types of CT workshop material to interested schools and community groups in developing nations: 1) Leo Igwe's "iDoubt" method; 2) Dr. Chris DiCarlo's system based on his best-selling book How to Become a Really Good Pain in the Ass: A Critical Thinker’s Guide to Asking the Right Questions; 3) Hank Pellissier's "Why Do We Believe What We Believe?" approach. We provide funds for copying, food to serve participants, and (occasionally) salaries for workshop presenters.

Critical Thinking delivers the logic and skills necessary to combat dangerous superstitions and beliefs prevalent in developing nations...[more]

Input Energy for Heavy Industry - Nigeria’s Unexploited Coal deposits #Nigeria


In How We Made It a 2010 report:
...The domestic coal market is latently large. Besides the potential for power generation, Nigeria currently imports coals of various grades and qualities. There is also the potential for coal exports to countries such as China, Israel, Japan, Ghana, United States, Europe and India.

Nigerian coal has been found suitable for boiler fuel, production of high calorific gas, domestic heating, briquettes, formed coke and the manufacture of a wide range of chemicals including waxes, resins, adhesives and dyes. Their characteristic properties (low sulphur and ash content and low thermoplastic properties), make these sub-bituminous coals ideal for coal-fired electric plants. Some Nigerian coals can be used to produce formed-coke of metallurgical quality.
More here

Colonialism and the Disintegration of Indigenous Technology in Igboland: A Case Study of Blacksmithing in Nkwerre. #Nigeria


From Ukpuru:
[…] The colonial educational system disorientated the people and the effect was so conspicuous that it emphasised on clericalism and neglected artisan and technical training. The educational system created no links with traditional occupation and skills; rather, it tended to divorce the recipients from traditional skills. The dysfunctional nature of the system had adverse effect on the traditional milieu of the people. The view is supported by Walter51 when he maintained that it was not an educational system that grew out of the African environment or one that was designed to promote the most rational use of material and social sources. He further averred that it was not an educational system designed to give young people confidence and pride as members of African societies, but one which sought to instil/inculcate a sense of deference towards all that was European and capitalism. Colonial schooling was education for subordination, exploitation, the creation of mental confusion and the development of underdevelopment.

Therefore, the net effect of colonialism was that it foisted negative change on Nkwerre traditional technology and other communities in Igboland. The people became dazzled and stupefied by the events such that their response became mimetic rather than analytical; thus, they despised their emerging civilisation and technology for similar foreign-made products and they took to schooling but made paper qualification and end in itself...[more]

How Nigeria's Millennial Priestess Is Revitalizing Spirituality


Wana Udobang writing for the OZY:
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Omitonade Ifawemimo presents as a modern-day sage, with gleaming eyes, a petite frame — and wisdom to spare. She is in fact a 20-something Orisha priestess, with an easy smile and tightly knotted hair. And she has made it her mission to teach and preserve the Orisha and Ifa spiritual practices, which are indigenous to the Yoruba people of Nigeria and adjoining parts of Togo and Benin...[more]

African Arms & Armor


A book by Christopher Spring:
A survey of traditional arms and armor drawing on eyewitness accounts, African oral history, and early published sources. Spring (curator, Dept. of Ethnography, British Museum) describes weapons, methods, and materials from across the continent, and discusses warfare, throwing knives, and the female warriors of the Dahomey culture...[more]

Sunni Ali and the Rise of the Songhai Empire


From Searching in History:
Mali’s power had waned by the 15th century. Various regions of the empire began to assert their independence from the declining Mali. Among this regions was near the famous bend of the Niger River. It only took a ruthless ruler, named Sonni or Sunni Ali Ber to lead his people to independence and to a military campaign that would forge a new empire – the Songhai.
More here

The Intimate Enemy: Loss and Recovery of Self Under Colonialism


By Ashis Nandy:
This study contends that modern colonialism is successful not only because the ruling country subjugates through superior technical and economic resources, but also because the rulers propagate cultural subservience of the subject people. Exploring the myths, fantasies and psychological defenses that went into the colonial culture, particularly the polarities that shaped the colonial theory of progress, Nandy describes the Indian experience and shows how the Indians broke with traditional norms of Western culture to protect their vision of an alternative future.

Igbo Water Divinities


From Ukpuru:
image via
River gods and goddesses are found wherever a significant river or waterbody is found in Igboland, some of the more powerful cults cover larger areas and command more respect and followers by the importance of the waterbodies. Often of fluid gender, the water spirits are powerful ‘images’ of sexuality, fertility, beauty, and wealth and power. The most powerful water spirits are listed...[more]

Yoruba Iron Walking Sticks


From Orisha Image:

Some months ago I was chatting with Baba Nathan Lugo, searching for an Ọbàtálá symbol to include in an artwork. He suggested: “You could draw an ọ̀pá Òṣooro!” ­– I had no idea what that was. While I waited for his detailed explanation, I started to read about other Yorùbá ọ̀pá, translated as "walking sticks" and gathered (often confusing) information from these books. Let me share what I found out! This is a brief introduction to this topic...[more]

Recovering Pre-colonial Philosophies - Reality introduced by Sophie Oluwole


Fact is Fiction in conversation with Sophie Oluwole:
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Beating the Corruption Enterprise - A Policy Approach to Criminal Justice in #Nigeria


Olasupo Shasor writing in The Republic:
Perpetrators of criminal acts routinely defeat the machinery of justice, enabled by their understanding of the limited capacity of state agents, borders and institutions to prevent crime. The traditional view is that an offender must have criminal intent even if he is ultimately influenced by forces in his environment but external to his control. Yet certain criminal behaviour, even if entirely involuntary, usually lacks the essential features that will adjudge it criminal in the eyes of the law...[more]

Could #Bitcoin Become the Currency of System D?


Jon Matonis writes:
...All kind of vibrant economic activity is occurring in the informal economy, which in some regions is between 20-60% of GDP or more, and every economy needs a currency. Essentially, bitcoin is the 'System D' of currencies -- global, decentralized, and non-state sanctioned. It is still early days but as bitcoin bypasses traditional banking and financial institutions, it is a currency off the grid just as System D. To deny the existence of System D is to deny the fact that economic participants find ways to survive even during prolonged times of hardship. According to Robert Neuwirth "it asserts an important truth: what happens in all the unregistered markets and roadside kiosks of the world is not simply haphazard. It is a product of intelligence, resilience, self-organization and group solidarity."
More here

In #Kenya & #Tanzania - Don’t Lose the Plot - A Reality Show on Farming


Tom Odula writing in the WP:
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As a student, Leah Wangari imagined a glamorous life as a globe-trotting flight attendant, not toiling in dirt and manure.

Born and raised in Kenya’s skyscraper-filled capital, Nairobi, the 28-year-old said farming had been the last thing on her mind. The decision to drop agriculture classes haunted her later, when her efforts in agribusiness investing while running a fashion venture failed.

Clueless, she made her way to an unusual new reality TV show, the first of its kind in Africa. “Don’t Lose the Plot,” backed by the U.S. government, trains contestants from Kenya and neighboring Tanzania and gives them plots to cultivate, with a $10,000 prize for the most productive. The goal: Prove to young people that agriculture can be fun and profitable...[more]

#Blockchain Government - a next form of infrastructure for the twenty-first century


A paper from MyungSan Jun:
Today, more than 100 blockchain projects created to transform government systems are being conducted in more than 30 countries. What leads countries rapidly initiate blockchain projects? I argue that it is because blockchain is a technology directly related to social organization; Unlike other technologies, a consensus mechanism form the core of blockchain. Traditionally, consensus is not the domain of machines but rather humankind. However, blockchain operates through a consensus algorithm with human intervention; once that consensus is made, it cannot be modified or forged. Through utilization of Lawrence Lessig’s proposition that “Code is law,” I suggest that blockchain creates “absolute law” that cannot be violated. This characteristic of blockchain makes it possible to implement social technology that can replace existing social apparatuses including bureaucracy. In addition, there are three close similarities between blockchain and bureaucracy. First, both of them are defined by the rules and execute predetermined rules. Second, both of them work as information processing machines for society. Third, both of them work as trust machines for society. Therefore, I posit that it is possible and moreover unavoidable to replace bureaucracy with blockchain systems. In conclusion, I suggest five principles that should be adhered to when we replace bureaucracy with the blockchain system: 1) introducing Blockchain Statute law; 2) transparent disclosure of data and source code; 3) implementing autonomous executing administration; 4) building a governance system based on direct democracy and 5) making Distributed Autonomous Government(DAG)...[more]

Why Colonial Christianity is the No. 1 problem in Africa: An illustration - Kendi Borona


Kendi Borona writes:
Christianity is the no 1 problem in Africa. If it is not no 1, it is certainly in the top 3. Christianity is used to entrench oppression of African peoples. All our leaders are “God fearing”? The Christian God is a paradox. The most intolerant people you will ever encounter are Christians, especially the born again variety. Zambians are praying because they have a cholera outbreak. Zambians were praying a few years ago because they had no electricity. In Kenya, we have something called a national prayer breakfast which is led by politicians who are responsible for all the misery and suffering of the Kenyan population. They meet in posh hotels and stuff their mouths with sausages and sing hymns to the Christian God. And we say we are a Christian nation. What Christian values do we live by? We have more churches than schools, universities and hospitals combined in Kenya. Christianity has destroyed Africa because it hinders thinking completely. All the major political parties in Kenya in the last election were using Christian sloganeering. Never mind that there are many people in Kenya who are not Christians, but since the Christian God is the best, the rest should just fall in line. Poverty of ideas and high degrees of insensitivity. One of the few respectable Kenyan retired clergy, Rev. Timothy Njoya refers to this behaviour as “mocking God.” Christianity tells Africans that no weapon formed against them will prosper. Unfortunately, slavery prospered, Slavery is prospering in Libya and the Middle East, colonialism prospered, neocolonial encirclement is prospering, misgovernance is prospering, even the clergy are prospering at the expense of the people.
More here

The Apprentice State – Bright Simons @BBSimons


Bright Simons writing in the Scarab:
In a recent debate on Facebook about the propriety or otherwise of the highly indebted Ghanaian state building and running factories (something not on the immediate policy agenda but frequently demanded by the country’s residual Marxist intelligentsia), a number of my sparring partners brought up, as expected, the ascendant theory of the “developmental state”...[more]

West Africa's Libertarian Moment


Over at Reason:
For decades, West Africa was inhospitable soil for the seeds of libertarianism. Léopold Senghor, the first president of Senegal, famously argued that socialism is an inherent fit for the region, saying: "Africa's social background of tribal community life not only makes socialism natural to Africa, but excludes the validity of the theory of class struggle." Along with Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and Modibo Keita of Mali, Senghor designed a model of West African governance in which social development would be guided by a large public sector. Driven by this vision (and considerable financial support from the USSR), state participation in regional economies was taken to extremes: in Ghana, for example, Nkrumah nationalized all foreign companies, imposed price controls, collectivized agriculture, and established state-run industries in everything from cocoa processing to pharmaceuticals to metallurgy...[more]

Ijeoma Oluo : Humanist


From the Humanist magazine:
“The same confidence that many of my friends have in the belief that Jesus walks with them is the confidence that I have that nobody walks with me.”—Ijeoma Oluo, writing for The Guardian, October 24, 2015

iDOUBT a system of Critical Thinking from Leo Igwe


BrighterBrains presents Leo Igwe's system of Critical Thinking

In Africa Innovation needs to precede development - Efosa Ojomo


Efosa Ojomo at TEDxGaborone:
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Lit Up Lalibela - A Replica of Ethiopia's Rock Church


The story of Lit Up Lalibela:
My name is Elizabeth Tsehai. I am an Ethiopian-American entrepreneur based in Washington, DC. I found that many people had not heard of Ethiopia's cross-shaped church, so I designed a small decorative replica as a way of showcasing it. A firm in Addis helped with the design and I added LED lights to reference the candlelit ceremonies that still take place there.

Carved from a single rock 900 years ago, Lalibela's cross-shaped church is a remarkable feat of architecture and engineering. Known as Bet Giorgis, or House of St. George, it is well preserved due to an ingenious drainage system which keeps water from pooling on the roof and a surrounding trench which protects it from the elements.

Iconic structures around the world represent a country's culture, history and achievement. Lalibela's cross-shaped church may not be among the best known, but its story is no less compelling...[more]

Chuma Nwokolo - Superstate Africa: #Kenya, #Somaliland, and the Ghost of #Biafra Past.


via James Murua:
allow="autoplay" frameborder="no" height="300" scrolling="no" src="" width="100%">Chuma Nwokolo gave a lecture “Superstate Africa: Kenya, Somaliland, and the Ghost of Biafra Past” at the Rift Valley Institute on September 28, 2017 as part of Storymoja Festival 2017. That festival was celebrating its tenth anniversary and had the theme of “Black Peace”.

Chuma is the author of many books the most recent of which is The Extinction of The Menai. At the end of the lecture, he had a conversation with the audience moderated by blogger and journalist James Murua. Below are some videos from the event.
More here

From Rift Valley Net:
With more than 2000 ethnic groups in Africa and 50-odd states between them, there are certainly enough minority problems to go round.

On 28 September 2017, the Rift Valley Forum, in collaboration with Storymoja, hosted lawyer and writer Chuma Nwokolo, to explore this year's Storymoja's theme, Black Peace. In this wide-ranging conversation, Nwokolo, a survivor of a massacre during the Biafran war, mapped a path through the minefield of politics to a renascent Africa, using case studies from Kenya's devolution to Somaliland's quest for full statehood.

Chuma Nwokolo's new book, The Extinction of Menai, explores the loss of language and culture as well as the extinction of vulnerable ethnicities in Africa. The book explores how a sense of estrangement from state power feeds into a culture of tribalism and agitation for restructuring—from autonomy, to federation, to outright secession...

How protest is redefining democracy in #Africa around the world - Zachariah Mampilly at #TEDGlobal


Zachariah Mampilly at TED Global 2017:
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